Muzaffarpur case: Court seeks CBI response on Thakur’s plea claiming witnesses not reliable

Legal

Muzaffarpur case: Court seeks CBI response on Thakur’s plea claiming witnesses not reliable

New Delhi, Jan 14 : A Delhi court on Tuesday sought response of the CBI on a plea filed by Brajesh Thakur, prime accused in a case of alleged sexual and physical assault of several girls in a Muzaffarpur shelter home, claiming that testimonies of witnesses in the case were not reliable.

Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha directed the CBI to file its reply within two days and deferred for the third time pronouncement of judgement in the case till November 20.

The plea filed through advocate P K Dubey said the prosecution witnesses were not of sterling quality.

The plea was filed as the probe agency had given a statement in the Supreme Court that the girls, who were thought to be allegedly murdered, were alive, said advocate Dheeraj Kumar, representing some of the accused in the case.

The court had earlier deferred the order till January 14 as the judge was on leave and prior to it, the judgment was deferred by a month as 20 accused, who are currently lodged in Tihar central jail, could not be brought to court premises due to lawyers’ strike in all six district courts in the national capital.

The court had on March 20, 2018, framed charges against the accused, including Thakur, for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.

The accused included eight women and 12 men.

The Court had held trial for the offences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drugging of minors, criminal intimidation among other charges.

Thakur and employees of his shelter home, as well as Bihar department of social welfare officials were charged with criminal conspiracy, neglect of duty and failure to report assault on the girls.

The charges also included offence of cruelty to child under their authority, punishable under the Juvenile Justice Act.

All the accused, who appeared before the court, pleaded innocence and claimed trial.

The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

The court had reserved order on September 30 after final arguments by the CBI counsel and 20 accused in the case in which former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Thakur had links with her husband.

She had resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.

The CBI had told a special court that there was enough evidence against all the accused in the case.

However, those accused have claimed that the CBI had not conduct a “fair investigation” into the case, which has been registered under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and entails life imprisonment as the maximum punishment.

Additional Sessions Judge Kulshreshtha, during the in-camera trial, concluded the arguments in the case.

The case was transferred on February 7 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the Supreme Court’s directions.

During the trial, counsel for the CBI told the court that the statements of minor girls, who were allegedly sexually assaulted, point to the fact that there was enough evidence against all the accused and they should be convicted.

The matter had come to light after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report to the Bihar government on May 26, 2018, highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls in the shelter home for the first time.

On May 29 last year, the state government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes. In May 31, 2018, an FIR was lodged against the 11 accused in the case.

The top court had on August 2 taken cognisance of the alleged sexual assault of about 30 minor girls in Muzaffarpur’s shelter home and transferred the probe to the CBI on November 28.

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